Police continued their hunt yesterday for a 17-year-old charged with five rapes who escaped from custody in Howard County Saturday.

Howard County police said he is also suspected in one rape and several assaults since the escape.

Maryland State Police, who are leading the manhunt, said they have had no confirmed sightings of Daniel Dennis Collins, who they describe as armed and dangerous, since early Sunday morning. Roadblocks in the Jessup area were lifted Sunday night.

State police investigators, joined by detectives from Howard, Prince George's and Anne Arundel county police, spent yesterday following leads without success, state police spokesman Sgt. Tom Moore said.

Collins, who had been imprisoned at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, a high-security state mental hospital, escaped from guards at Howard General Hospital, where he had been taken for an X-ray.

According to police, Collins is a suspect in the abduction of a woman, the rape of another and an assault on an elderly couple who were opening a Jessup church -- all after his escape.

Collins was arrested by Prince George's County police on Aug. 6, for a weekend spree of sex crimes and car thefts. He was charged with the first-degree rape of five women, as well as numerous lesser sex offenses, auto thefts, assaults, abductions and kidnapings.

All told, he was indicted on 96 counts, according to his attorney, Jeffrey T. Wennar.

Collins is already serving 15 years' probation for a 1983 street robbery in Arlington, Wennar said. Last Dec. 5, Collins was found incompetent to stand trial in Prince George's Circuit Court.

One court official familiar with Collins' record said the youth had spent most of his time since the age of 10 in psychiatric institutions and schools for the emotionally disturbed. At other times, the official said, he lived with his mother in the District and in Waldorf.

Wennar said psychiatrists at Perkins have diagnosed a "severe personality disorder with marked sociopathic and antisocial elements." He said doctors there "said that they fear for the public safety."